While I contemplate how to proceed with the quilting, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the design process with you, especially since a few readers have said they might want to try something like this.
Learning the Stitches - Which Ones to Use and Where to Use Them
Sue Spargo's book, Creative Stitching, was very important in my design process. I didn't know most of the stitches when I started this piece. The instructions in the book are easy to follow, and I was able to learn all that I wanted from the book. More than learning the stitches, the photos in the book allowed me to see how she uses the stitches to embellish her wool applique shapes. Also, she writes about the threads and needles she uses. I followed her suggestions for needles, but did not use many of the threads she mentions.
Layout the Shapes
The wool is felted. I bought already felted (correct term is actually "fulled") wool. But you can make your own by washing wool fabric and drying it in the dryer. Here are some useful instructions for fulling wool fabric.
The first step is to cut out the chicks from felted wool fabrics. (Although I made chicks, the shape could be anything... butterflies, flowers, circles, donkeys...) I used 16 different colors, making each chick a different color. I used "chick colors" for some of the wings; others are from a bag of wool scraps I bought at the La Conner Quilt Festival.
I used 60 wt. cotton sewing thread to applique the chicks to the background fabric. Use a thread color that matches the chick color as closely as possible. Although it's a bit shiny, a single strand of embroidery floss would also work for this task.
Starting to Embellish the Chicks
When I finished appliqueing the chicks to the background wool, they just looked like blobs, barely recognizable as chicks. This is not inspirational for starting to embellish! I found that in order to even want to start, I needed to make them more real, more chick-like. So I gave them all eyes, all 16 of them. That helped a lot, but still they didn't feel real. So I gave them all feet, and then beaks. So as not to get bored, I changed thread color for both beaks and feet. Some of the eyes are made with a button; some with a flower-shaped bead; some with a disc-shaped bead. When all of them had eyes, feet, and beaks, finally they began to be chicks, and I was ready to start!!!
Even so... starting is daunting. I used the same method I use (and teach) for bead embroidery... If you've taken a class from me you've heard me say, "Pick up a bead you love, and sew it on somewhere." That's what I did... picked up a thread I loved, picked a stitch that interested me from Sue's book, picked a chick color that appealed to me at that moment, and started practicing the stitch.
When I finished, I just did the same thing again. Sometimes it was the same chick, sometimes I chose a different chick. I kept picking a thread I liked, usually one I hadn't previously used, a stitch I wanted to learn or really liked, and a chick that seemed "to like" the chosen thread color.
After a while, some of the chicks were fully embellished. Once I learned the stitches and had experimented with various threads, I tended to work on one chick until it was finished. But
Another way to get started
If you feel a bit timid about starting, you could make a pincushion, such as I did, shown below. It doesn't take a lot of time or materials, and can give you both practice (particularly in making beaks and feet) and confidence.
I can't help but think of the chicks as youngsters, maybe early teens, with emerging personalities... each, as I work on it, starts to have a story which plays out in my head while I stitch. Once the story begins, it's easier to choose stitches, design motifs, and threads which further develop the story or personality of that chick. Thinking about the chick's personality and background story, keeps me from getting bored, and makes it really fun to work on the piece.
I already wrote about threads, adding it to the bottom the previous post (or, scroll down one more post).
As usual, I don't know. I take it one step at a time, trying not to figure it all out before I start. I do what I know to do. If there isn't anything I know to do, then I wait... wait for an idea, for inspiration, for a solution... wait until I know what to do next, but only the next thing... I try to ignore the question of what comes after the next thing. That's what I'm doing now... waiting to know what the next step in the quilting process will be.